LePage to nominate two Cabinet members on Wednesday

Posted Dec. 06, 2010, at 2:26 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 06, 2010, at 8:30 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Mainers will learn this week who Gov.-elect Paul LePage would like to serve in two Cabinet posts to oversee state police and to head military and disaster response agencies.

The Republican is planning a news conference Wednesday to announce the first two of his 15 Cabinet appointments, transition team spokesman Dan Demeritt said.

LePage’s nominees, who will face legislative confirmation reviews, would serve as commissioners of the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

Anne Jordan now heads Public Safety, which oversees state and Capitol police, the state fire marshal’s office, gambling control and other law enforcement functions.

Maj. Gen. John Libby, adjutant general of the Maine National Guard, is commissioner of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management. In addition to state military and veterans issues, the department is lead agency for civil emergency preparedness.

LePage’s choices for top administration posts have spurred much speculation. Transition officials will not reveal any names, and LePage has said only that he has interviewed candidates to head the Conservation Department and the Public Safety Department.

Widespread speculation in the State House and on government-watch websites point to William Beardsley, one of LePage’s six rivals for the GOP gubernatorial nomination earlier this year, as the governor-elect’s choice for Conservation Department commissioner.

Asked about those reports, Demeritt said, “Bill Beardsley is being strongly considered, and an announcement will be made soon.”

Beardsley said it would be inappropriate to respond to speculation, but said, “It would be an honor to serve in any capacity” if asked by the governor-elect. The Conservation Department, which oversees state parks, public lands and historic sites, the forest service and land use regulation in the Unorganized Territory, now is headed by Eliza Townsend.

Beardsley, who was Husson University president for more than 20 years, also has headed Alaska’s economic development office, taught natural resources management at the college level and held prominent positions with utilities, including Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.

His possible appointment drew early attention from the website Maine Environmental News, which acknowledged Beardsley’s “impressive resume” but questioned what it sees as his lack of conservation credentials.

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